How to Get Your Christmas Tree Permit from White River National Forest

"Christmas tree permits are now available for sale through the White River National Forest. Any species of conifer trees on national forest land may be harvested, however, people are advised to avoid cutting Colorado Blue Spruce trees. Trees must be taken from at least 100 feet away of any main roads. Trees that are harvested should be shorter than 15 feet in height, cut as close to the ground as possible and stumps should be cleaned of any remaining green branches. One Christmas tree permit is to be used per harvested tree and attached directly to the base before transporting home.

SELECTING YOUR TREE

The forest service asks that people do not pick a single tree in a forest opening due to the fact that these are the start of our future forests. It is best to find groups trees and select one from the bunch. Remember to consider the height of the tree as well as the height of the ceiling where the tree will be placed.

CARING FOR YOUR TREE

Once you are home with your tree, cut roughly one inch off the base of the trunk and immediately place it in water. Water from the tap is perfectly safe to use. Be sure to check the water level multiple times a day during the first week and once a day there after.

For more information, visit any White River National Forest office or go to http://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver"

Source: Post Independent 

 

"Garfield County Tightens Personal Pot Growing Regulations"

"Following some high-profile busts of large illegal marijuana farms in Garfield County, commissioners moved Monday to tighten control over personal marijuana grows, which have gone largely unregulated by the county.

New amendments to the county land use code target personal marijuana grows, not commercial operations.

These amendments follow discovery of large illegal pot farms in unincorporated Garfield County.

One bust on Mile Pond Road near Rifle uncovered a massive operation where authorities found about 2,600 marijuana plants.

County code enforcement officer Wade Patton said that since then, authorities have discovered three more pot farms with around 400 plants each. 'But there are so many more than just that,' he said.

Patton and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office are trying to make a big dent in this industry 'to let them know we’re watching,' he said.

But the new amendments do not target illegal grow operations, but ones that have operated legally though loopholes that allow them to become quite large.

Violations of these amendments would necessarily be a civil rather than a criminal matter, and commissioners were concerned about enforcement through possibly lengthy lawsuits.

After the county’s community development department expressed concerns this summer about unchecked marijuana grows in unincorporated parts of the county, staff recommended initiating caps for both plant count and for square footage of growing space.

The amendments restrict personal marijuana grows to 36 plants grown in a 300-square-foot, contiguous area for properties on lots 20,000 square feet or more.

For smaller lots, the amendments allow for even fewer plants: 12 plants per lot, which can be grown only in an area of 100 square feet. On lots with three or more dwelling units, residents are also allowed only 12 plants per dwelling unit, also in a contiguous 100-square-foot space.

Personal grows and “caregiver facilities” have until now not been regulated by the county.

Generally, an individual is allowed to grow up to six plants for themselves.

While state law allows people to grow six plants for themselves, language in the law also allows people to 'assist another person,' which the attorney general’s office has recently opined means a person can assist an unlimited number of individuals, theoretically allowing them to grow an unlimited number of marijuana plants, David Pesnichak, county senior planner, told commissioners Monday.

Colorado law also allow individuals to grow marijuana plants as “caregivers” for up to five patients.

County staff arrived at a restriction of 36 plants based on the number a caregiver can grow with five patients, plus the six the caregiver can grow for him or herself.

But caregivers can also get a waiver to take on more patients and some doctors will prescribe more plants for certain patients, according to staff.

'In some cases, the caregiver’s grow has easily exceeded 100 plants,' according to the staff report. 'We are now aware that patients frequently have medical cards authorizing them to have far in excess of six plants. Therefore, the county is seeing large-scale medical marijuana open air grows … that claim to be caregiver facilities.'

Staff and commissioners were concerned about numerous safety hazards they say these large, unregulated operations pose.

'These standards are to address nuisance, health and safety issues related to an individual’s right to grow marijuana for personal and medical use under the state constitution,' according to the county staff report.

The county’s amendments will also require that all grows be in 'enclosed locked spaces,' rather than allowing grows outdoors.

And language in the amendments bars these grows from producing “odors, smoke, heat, glare or light” detectable from the property line."

Source: Post Independent

The New Grand Avenue Bridge Will Be a Rockstar

"The new Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge opens in March, and many onlookers have already noticed the design evolution beginning to come to the forefront. Within the next few weeks, the bridge will receive one of its essential design features, the stone and brick veneer.

The red brick is actually 'tumbled,' which gives it a historic feel. It will be applied to the elevator tower, known as Seventh Street Station, and is the same brick used on the Ninth Street and Cooper Avenue parking structure and the recent refacing of the planters along Grand Avenue.

Rose strip flagstone will be applied to all the bridge piers and the bridge barrier wall between Seventh and Eighth streets. It, too, is a historic material that can be found throughout our downtown.

Decorative rock is being installed on the new Glenwood Springs pedestrian bridge.

Much time and thought was put behind these features by Colorado Department of Transportation, AMEC Foster Wheeler, Glenwood Springs City Council and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The brick and stone in the bridge design is an important factor in helping the new bridge fit the city’s character. In this week’s Answer Man, we will explain why.

Leslie Bethel, executive director of the Glenwood Springs DDA, takes us back to the preliminary phases of the new pedestrian bridge design: 'It was City Council that gave the DDA the guidance and goal to make the new bridge part of our town,' she said. This, she explains, is an extremely important task. With her extensive experience in design and architecture, Bethel said she knows how easy it is for a town or city to lose its character when a prominent, large, new structure is built.

Updating a city’s character and architecture by way of choosing overtly modern designs is common among many cities. However, that’s not Glenwood Springs, Bethel explains.

'Glenwood Springs’ goals are different, it’s all about quality and building on our context.' She notes that much of the city’s historic architecture matches the red tones in the soil of Glenwood’s surrounding landscapes such as Red Mountain in west Glenwood.

A total of 5,054 square feet of stone and brick will be installed on various sections of the bridge. These areas include the bridge barrier walls, abutment walls and piers, and the Seventh Street Station, which includes the elevator core and the pedestrian stair structures.

The brick and stone will be handled by Colorado Founded Rock & Co., which has worked on projects for clients from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Federal Highway Department.

'These brick and stone features on, and adjacent to, the bridge are used to tie the bridges together with not only the historic buildings but with the context of our surrounding environment,' Bethel said. The brick and stone work build on the character that makes Glenwood Springs unique.'"

Source: Post Independent

Update on Potential Dams at Castle and Maroon Creeks - Tell Us What You Think

"The city of Aspen took its first legal steps Monday to preserve its water rights to build dams on both Castle and Maroon creeks, setting off a fire storm of criticism from at least two conservation groups.

The filings were made with the District 5 Water Court and came after City Council voted 5-0 on Oct. 10 to proceed with the extension, which if granted, could result in the construction of two reservoirs on the pristine creeks. The city claimed the water rights in November 1971.

The city’s concern over a growing population, combined with climate change’s impacts on the two creeks, which supply drinking water to residents, was the chief impetus to register two documents called “applications for finding of reasonable diligence' with the water court.

'These warmer days demonstrate that local snowpack, the primary source of the City’s water supply, is threatened,' the filings said.

Carbondale-based conservation group Wilderness Workshop issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the city’s move.

'The city of Aspen’s pursuit of dams on Castle and Maroon creeks could not be more out of step with the community’s values,' said Will Roush, Conservation Director at the Wilderness Workshop. “These two iconic creeks, universally treasured by our community, have far too many social and ecological values to build unneeded reservoirs on them.'

In a telephone interview, Roush said he saw no surprises in the filings.

'I think in terms of the technical aspects, this is what we anticipated,” he said. 'It’s consistent with the resolution they passed on the 10th, but they will have the option to modify the size or the location of the reservoirs.'

Rob Harris, the senior staff attorney for another conservation group, Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates, said, 'The city’s conditional water rights provide no protection from the Front Range of Colorado diverting water from the West Slope. These water rights serve only one purpose, to build dams near Aspen and at the foot of the Maroon Bells. Western Resource Advocates would look forward to working with Aspen on better water management options that benefit the community and the environment for the long-term.'

While environmental groups, as well as multiple local residents, have been outspoken against the city’s effort to renew its water rights because of the potential for dams to be built, city officials played down such a scenario when they made their decision last month. City Council members explained that preserving the rights would prevent another party from grabbing them in the future, and the dams would be built in a worst-case scenario so the creeks could adequately serve Aspen’s projected population of 17,500 in 2066.

'The city of Aspen filed paperwork Monday with the District 5 Water Court to renew its water rights on Maroon (pictured) and Castle creeks, which could lead to the construction of dams on each stream.' Source: Ana Stonehouse, The Aspen Times

'The question is not to build or not to build dams,' Mayor Steve Skadron said at the October meeting. “The issue is whether to keep the water rights … with the due diligence that is upon us.'

'The scariest thing about climate change is unpredictability,' Councilwoman Ann Mullins said at the meeting. “And you just don’t know what’s going to happen. … I’m not convinced if we lose the water rights now that in some extreme circumstances there might be a water grab by another municipality.'

Wilderness Workshop suggested the city’s concerns are overblown.

'Even if the population of Aspen triples to more than 17,000 (growth that is likely far outside the community’s desired future) and climate change causes significant change in the run-off pattern, there will still be plenty of water for the citizens of Aspen,' Wilderness Workshop’s statement said.

Both creeks meander stretch through valleys leading to the popular destinations of the Maroon Bells and the ghost town of Ashcroft.

The city’s applications for renewals aren’t done deals. There is a 60-day period for statements of opposition to be filed with the water court. From there, the matter could go to a water referee, and possibly an 18-month period for settlement discussions."

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Big Projects Drive Glenwood Springs’ 2017 Budget

"A long list of big-ticket infrastructure planning and construction projects, along with a planned three-month-long bridge detour, serve as the basis for a proposed $79.8 million total Glenwood Springs city budget for next year.

 

The overall 2017 budget, all funds included, would represent a 10.7 percent increase in spending compared with this year.

However, much of the proposed spending is linked to several outstanding state and federal grant applications that may or may not come to fruition, City Manager Debra Figueroa cautioned.

'The budget includes a very healthy assumption of grant funding and spending of grant funding that we have already been awarded,' said Figueroa, who is directing her first city budget since taking the city manager’s job in June.

'If we don’t get it, we won’t spend it,' she said.

The proposed budget goes before City Council for initial approval at a special council meeting on Nov. 1, which was scheduled in place of the usual Thursday meeting next week due to a lack of a quorum on the normal meeting day.

Included in the overall budget is a $15.7 million general fund, which covers such things as police ($3.8 million), recreation ($2.4 million), streets ($1.3 million), and parks and cemetery operations ($1.1 million).

General fund spending is proposed to increase about 1.3 percent from this year. Revenue into the fund is expected to increase about 5 percent, according to the budget proposal.

The budget is largely built around 20 priorities that were identified through the City Council planning process that entailed some 11 hours of discussion over the past several weeks, Figueroa said.

Many of those priorities — from pressing forward with the river confluence, Sixth and Seventh street redevelopments to ensuring the new Eighth Street connection becomes a permanent city street after the Grand Avenue bridge detour next year — count on passage of the acquisitions and improvements special sales tax renewal that’s on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Specifically, the city has budgeted $500,000 for continued planning related to Eighth Street, and $2.5 million for the Seventh Street improvements. The latter would be dependent on receiving a $1 million state Energy Impact grant, or otherwise the project would have to be scaled back.

Priorities also include continued planning for several future transportation infrastructure projects, such as the proposed South Bridge route from Airport Road to Colorado 82, a new bridge crossing the Union Pacific Railroad tracks from Devereux Road to Midland Avenue, and redesign of the 27th Street bridge.

Several broader categories are also on the city’s priority list and could come into play in next year’s budget, including affordable/attainable housing, senior housing, and homeless/transient issues.

Another big-ticket capital item that’s in the 2017 budget is $1.25 million for additional stabilization work on the municipal operations building on Wulfsohn Road.

The city is also looking at a 3 percent merit pay increase for city workers, and plans to add nine new employees next year, Figueroa said.

Two of those new positions will be in the Fire Department, which is directly related to the planned three-month Grand Avenue bridge detour that will be in place from late August through November while the final segment of the new Colorado River bridge is being built.

'We wanted to ensure that we have full staffing during the bridge closure, including people in west Glenwood so the Fire Department will be able to respond on both sides of the bridge,' Figueroa said.

Going forward, it will depend on revenues whether those positions can be maintained after the new bridge is completed, she said.

'But it’s absolutely critical for next year,' she said.

Other new city positions will include one in the streets department to aid winter snow removal, one in the electric department, one in the broadband department, the return of a position in the finance department that was eliminated this year, and increasing a landfill position from half time to full time.

Figueroa said the city also plans to partner with the Best and Brightest Internship program for a two-year college intern in the city manager’s office, which will involve some cost to the city.

The total cost for new personnel would be $678,763, including salaries and benefits.

In addition, the city is looking at an 8 percent increase in overall employee insurance rates for the coming year. The city also plans to spend $45,000 to do a compensation study to make sure Glenwood Springs is remaining competitive in its wage structure.

Special events funding that is currently reflected in the budget includes $50,000 for continuation of the Fourth of July celebration that began this summer, and another $50,000 for some yet-to-be-determined events to help downtown businesses during the final year of the Grand Avenue bridge project."

Source: Glenwood Springs Post Independent